Spain's 2018 World Cup squad: Who joins Ramos & Iniesta in 23-man list?

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La Roja will be among the favourites in Russia and coach Julen Lopetegui has a wealth of talent from which to choose. So who has made the cut?

Spain are a team on form. By thrashing Argentina 6-1 in Madrid at the end of March, Julen Lopetegui's side extended their unbeaten run to 18 games, and they will be one of the fancied sides in Russia this summer.

European champions in 2008 and 2012 and World Cup winners in 2010, Spain disappointed in their last two major tournaments – crashing out in the group stages of the 2014 World Cup and losing in the last 16 of Euro 2016.

Coach Vicente del Bosque bowed out after the continental competition and Lopetegui took over, leading La Roja in an impressive qualifying campaign as they topped Group G with nine wins and a draw from their 10 games.

A 1-1 draw with Germany in Dusseldorf and then the resounding victory over Argentina in March continued the Basque boss' unbeaten record and Spain have been identified as one of the principal candidates to lift the trophy in Moscow this July.

Lopetegui has now decided which players to take to Russia and Goal has a look at who made the cut, as well as who didn't.


Who made Spain's 23-man squad?


Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea is Spain's undisputed first choice these days after Lopetegui decided to dispense with former captain Iker Casillas, and young Athletic Club shot-stopper Kepa Arrizabalaga will be his reserve in Russia, with Pepe Reina bringing experience to the panel.

In defence, Sergio Ramos and Gerard Pique have both been included. The Real Madrid captain is Spain's skipper, while the Barcelona centre-back is also extremely important for La Roja and is bowing out after the World Cup. In the full-back positions, Barca's Jordi Alba and Madrid's Dani Carvajal  are also guaranteed of their places in the squad this summer.

Players able to cover in several positions are always useful, meanwhile, and that makes Nacho a sensible inclusion - the dependable Madrid man is able to play all across the back line. Arsenal's Nacho Monreal and Chelsea's Cesar Azpilicueta are similarly versatile and Alvaro Odriozola has earned his place after starring for Real Sociedad.

Isco Spain

Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets is back in the fold and on the plane to Russia, along with his club colleague Andres Iniesta, who is leaving the Catalan club this summer and has said he will probably retire from international football after the World Cup.

Madrid pair Isco and Marco Asensio are also key for Lopetegui, along with Manchester City's David Silva and Bayern Munich's Thiago. They are all assured of their places in the 23-man list, and they are joined by Atletico Madrid duo  Koke and Saul, with Lopetegui a big admirer of both players.

Further forward, Diego Costa will be in competition with the likes of Celta Vigo forward Iago Aspas, Valencia star Rodrigo and Real Madrid's Lucas Vazquez .


Who didn't make the Spain squad?


Alvaro Morata Spain

Given the impressive depth of talent at Lopetegui's disposal it was inevitable that a number of high profile stars would be omitted and one of the biggest names to miss out is Alvaro Morata, whose form since joining Chelsea has been disappointing.

Morata's team-mate Marcos Alonso has been one of the best wing-backs in the Premier League over the past two seasons, but does not fit into the picture for Spain, while Rodri and Dani Parejo, who were in the squad for the Germany and Argentina friendlies, are not included.

Another Chelsea star, Pedro, has fallen down the pecking order for La Roja, while Manchester United's Juan Mata has also drifted out of the scene since the arrival of Lopetegui. Mata's club-mate Ander Herrera has never quite forced his way into the national team and is an unsurprising omission. 

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Marc Bartra, now at Betis, has featured under the Basque boss, but the former Barcelona defender is some way down the list and will be watching at home this summer, along with Liverpool's Alberto Moreno.

David Villa returned to the fold last year in a friendly, but his comeback was cut short by injury and the New York City FC striker is not likely to feature again for the national team. Another veteran, Athletic's Aritz Aduriz, also seems surplus to requirements following a run of appearances in 2017.

Atletico's Vitolo and Napoli's Jose Callejon, who both featured against Russia last November, are absent, along with Gerard Deulofeu, the Barca winger shipped out on loan to Watford after a disappointing first half of the season with the Catalan club.

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